Are loss prevention employees allowed to go into my car without mebeing present?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Are loss prevention employees allowed to go into my car without mebeing present?

My mother got caught stealing today and she had my car keys. When we went to leave, the lost prevention guy came out and grabbed her and took her purse right from her. When I was trying to ask him what happened and for my keys, he told me no. I then went and called my husband to go pick our children up during that time they used my keys to go in my car without me present and retrieve the things my mother stole, which I would have done for them but they never asked me. Even after that, they wouldn’t tell me if they were calling the police or not so I had to Uber home because they still wouldn’t give them to me. I then called the state police and asked if they had my keys and they told me they left them at the store in case I came back. I asked the officer if they were allowed to keep my keys and he said no they were not.

Asked on January 10, 2019 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, they may not: loss prevention officers have no authority to go into a person's car or to take their keys without consent: what they should have done is taken your information (e.g. license plate information) and call the police to deal with the situation. You could file a police complaint against them for various possible offenses, including unlawful detention (taking your keys so you could not leave).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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